— Guest post by Taryn Deaton —
One of my favorite seminary classes was spiritual formation. Spiritual formation is the process by which we are transformed into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. If we are to respond to the world as Jesus would, we have to be ever in a process of being transformed into his likeness. This happens through practices and disciplines like prayer, studying Scripture, worship, service, fellowship, sacrifice, and joyful and lavish giving.
Craig Blomberg wrote, “Christian ministries that are raising money do not stress the central biblical truths that giving is part of whole-life transformation, that stewardship and sanctification go together as signs of Christian obedience and maturity, and that God will call us to account for what we do with 100 percent of the possessions He has loaned us.”
Gratitude and joyful and generous giving are human responses to God’s love for us, the outgrowth of hearts that are undergoing transformation and being conformed to the image of Christ, and a sign of Christian obedience and maturity.
This isn’t something that happens overnight. It is part of our lifetime of journeying toward faith and wholeness in Jesus Christ.
Part of my call as a Christian fundraiser is to help change people’s and church’s views of money and fundraising. I also have the opportunity (as all of us do) to help transform people’s hearts and minds and help them to become joyful givers. This ministry is not limited to those of us who are professional fundraisers or pastors. I think we are all called to minister to each other and help each other to find joy in giving, whether it is our money, time, or talents.
This is stewardship season at Ravensworth Baptist Church. Soon you will be asked to make your annual pledge commitment and we will receive our church’s budget for the next fiscal year.
I don’t know why it is but when budget season rolls around at church, something switches in our brains and we all start thinking about church like a business. Income and expenditures have to line up. Somehow we forget to approach this work from a place of spiritual formation.
As you pray about your pledge and review the budget, I want to challenge you to focus not so much on the dollar amounts represented on the paper, but on the ministries that the budget makes possible.
At the end of the day, the church’s budget is about announcing a vision of the ministries Ravensworth has been called to carry out. Through our stewardship campaign we are inviting people to participate in our vision and mission.
In “The Spirituality of Fundraising,” Henri Nouwen says of stewardship/fundraising campaigns, “We are declaring, ‘We have a vision that is amazing and exciting. We are inviting you to invest yourself through the resources that God has given you—your energy, your prayers, and your money—in this work to which God has called us.’ Our invitation is clear and confident because we believe in our vision and mission.”
I don’t know about you, but this sounds exciting to me. Think about the vision and mission that this year’s budget announces. Get excited about the important work that God is calling us to do in this community and around the world.
As individuals, you are being asked to join in the mission that Ravensworth is announcing through your gifts and service. In the midst of a culture that focuses on buying more and more things for ourselves, this community of faith draws us back and invites us to put our resources at the disposal of the Kingdom.
Whether you have much or little is not as important as the possibility of making your money available to God. Pray about it. Discuss it with your family. Be intentional about the amount of money you choose to give. Amen!
– Taryn Deaton
Taryn Deaton is a Ravensworthy and the Director of Development at the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.